Office Live Will Be A Huge Productivity Tool

The other product announced yesterday at the Microsoft Preview event in San Francisco was Office Live. Office Live will launch in Q1 2006.

My raw notes from the event are on CrunchNotes, and my profile on Windows Live went up last night. Rajesh Jha presented the product.

Office Live is not an online version of Office.

Office Live is a set of free, ad-supported productivity tools for businesses that will really help the small guys. The service will also have a premium subscription product that will have “less” ads, according to Bill Gates yesterday.

The core tools are a free non-microsoft domain name, website and up to 50 email accounts with 2 GB of storage each. Rajesh created a new website in the demo, adding content and images, in a minute or so. For a small company needing a informational website, it will be great. Given that the domain name, website building, hosting and email will all be free, this will be very attractive to a small business.

For customers needing more, Microsoft will offer a suite of additional productivity applications – 22 in all were announced yesterday. They will also support third party applications – ADP’s payroll software was shown integrated into Office Live. A set of APIs will be available for third parties to add their application functionality into Office Live.

Among the additional applications was an office document collaboration tool. You can share an office document real time with others, allowing them to view and edit it. Impressive.

Office Live should become a starting point for small businesses wanting a web presence and a general platform to run their business operations.

If Microsoft can hold on to them as they grow by offering additional services, it will become a lucrative product for them. And the ad inventory they will generate from page views will also be highly valuable to advertisers selling into the small business space.

There is a real chance Office Live will be one of the big revenue generators for Microsoft, both from advertising and subscription fees.